The Political–Technical Divide and Collaborative Management in Brazil’s Taquari Basin


Elected officials and managers are both integral players in natural resource management. Politicians and technicians recognize that interdependencies exist, but finding organizational models that effectively integrate the distinct political and technical aspects of these endeavors remains a challenge. In Brazil’s Taquari Basin, leaders formed a watershed-based intermunicipal consortium in an attempt to achieve such integration. The experience of this consortium shows that organizing management around watersheds does not naturally lead to political–technical integration. The institutional separation of political and technical activities within this consortium’s structure generated divergent beliefs about appropriate functions for a watershed-based organization, ultimately impeding collaboration. Efforts to overcome these differences were largely unsuccessful, as the communication strategies employed were based on flawed understandings of the interests and objectives of politicians and technicians, respectively. This study draws on conceptual frameworks from organizational sociology to uncover the social forces that both facilitate and impede collaboration across the political–technical divide.

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The Journal of Environment & Development


Sage Publications

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